Author: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
Genre: Non-fiction graphic novel
Length: 128 pages
My rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Overview: MARCH is a vivid first hand account of John Lewis’s struggle for human and civil rights. Although told from Lewis’s point of view, it illustrates the highs and lows of the civil rights movement and resonates with an undying spirit of men. It is book one in a trilogy.
First, I need to tell you something. Never in my life have I considered myself to be the sort of reader who indulged in graphic novels. Just last year I whined about how I couldn’t understand why anyone would find a piece of work with few word interesting.
Today, I ate those words.
I went to the library about two weeks ago and did one of my “blind grabs”, which is how MARCH came to be in my hands. I’m not going to lie. I considered putting it back on the shelf and walking out with actual novels but I’m a stickler for rules.
And my #1 rule for blind grabs was I couldn’t, under any circumstances, put the book back until I read it. The whole point of this exercise was to put literary bias aside and add diversity to my reading preferences.
It took me two weeks to read MARCH and now that I have, I’m disappointed in myself for having doubt. To say that I love MARCH would be incorrect because I don’t think you have to love anything for it to be significant to you.
MARCH opened my eyes.
With graphic illustrations, it took me back to the days when the Civil Rights Movement was taking off and people joined together to fight for their right to equality. No, not equality. For their lives.
In the novel, Lewis talks about his childhood, where his Otis opened his eyes. He talked about his innocence and being unaware of how divided America truly was to having that blindfold ripped off. Rather than being paralyzed by fear or overcome with hopelessness, Lewis was inspired to take action.
I didn’t know half the people mentioned beyond Lewis, King, and Parks but I found myself wanting to know them. I came to admire them for their bravery, perseverance, and loyalty to each other.
In MARCH, it was impossible to ignore the blatant use of the N-word, the violence, the sheer fear that bled from the jagged drawings starkly staring up at me in black and white. It was an uncomfortable situation to read about but I felt compelled to finish it.
I was unable to pull myself away from the book, which had me on edge. I was waiting for a bomb to go off or for someone to get shot. I was waiting for something awful to happen to those putting themselves on the line and then I feared for them. Even though I knew these events already took place, MARCH had me afraid, as if it was still happening.
And then I realized I was afraid because it is still happening.
If you haven’t read MARCH, I encourage you to do so. Even if you hate pictures. Even if you don’t like graphic novels or believe you know everything there is to know about history. No matter your race, gender, or circumstances, I encourage you to read it. Because you need to like I needed to.
We all need to.